LGBT Weekly » Breaking News Sun, 30 Aug 2015 01:00:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 California Senate passes Mark Leno’s E-cigarette bill Thu, 27 Aug 2015 20:34:22 +0000

e-cigarettesSACRAMENTO – The Senate today, as part of the Legislature’s extraordinary session on health, passed legislation calling for new statewide regulations on electronic cigarettes. SB X2-5, authored by Sen. Mark Leno, protects the public against exposure to e-cigarettes by ensuring they are accurately defined as tobacco products and fall under the state’s existing smoke-free laws. It also requires that all e-cigarettes and liquids for e-cigarettes be sold in child-resistant packaging.

“Studies show that e-cigarettes are growing in popularity among a new generation of young Californians who are drawn to candy flavors like bubble gum and gummy bears,” said Sen. Leno, S-San Francisco. “The rate at which middle and high school students are picking up e-cigarettes – before having smoked anything else in their lives – is alarming. We must take action now to address this public health crisis, for our children, and for the public health of non-smokers and smokers alike.

The state’s Smoke Free Act prohibits smoking at workplaces, schools, daycare centers, restaurants, bars, hospitals and on public transportation, protecting Californians from secondhand smoke and reducing the acceptability of smoking in general. E-cigarettes, however, do not fall under this existing law and are largely unregulated, despite a restriction on sales to minors. SB X2-5 fixes this loophole and aligns state law with proposed federal regulations that define e-cigarettes as tobacco products. The bill is co-sponsored by a coalition of national health organizations, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association and American Lung Association.

The bill will be heard next in the Assembly.

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Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals denies emergency motion from anti-gay Kentucky Clerk Wed, 26 Aug 2015 22:12:50 +0000

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit today denied a request from Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis of Kentucky to issue a stay on a lower court’s ruling that orders her to immediately resume issuing marriage licenses – including to same-sex couples – regardless of her religious objections to marriage equality. U.S. District Judge David Bunning had temporarily stayed his order directing her to do so while Davis appealed his decision to the Sixth Circuit.

The judges found that “it cannot be defensibly argued that the holder of the Rowan County Clerk’s office, apart from who personally occupies that office, may decline to act in conformity with the United States Constitution as interpreted by a dispositive holding of the United States Supreme Court. There is thus little or no likelihood that the Clerk in her official capacity will prevail on appeal.”

“Public servants have a responsibility to serve the entire public, including LGBT people,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC senior vice president for Policy and Political Affairs.  “Freedom of religion is important, and Ms. Davis has the fundamental right to believe what she likes, but as a public servant she does not have the right to pick and choose which laws she will follow or which services she will provide. If Ms. Davis feels as though she cannot fulfill her responsibilities, she should resign her public position.”

Davis is represented by the vehemently anti-LGBT Liberty Counsel.

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Transgender Law Center condemns raid Wed, 26 Aug 2015 18:04:28 +0000

Yesterday, federal agents  raided the offices of, and arrested the CEO of, Jeffrey Hurant, and six employees on charges of racketeering and promoting prostitution.

The Transgender Law Center has issued a statement condemning the raid, reiterating a call to decriminalize sex work. The release states:

This bust comes at a time when human rights advocates globally are uniting around a call to decriminalize sex work and at a time when the United States has the largest prison population in the world, with people of color, particularly Black people, representing a vastly disproportionate percentage of the incarcerated.

With this raid, the U.S. federal government is not only jeopardizing countless people’s lives and only source of livelihood, but sending a clear and troubling message that the country is less invested in addressing systemic issues of racial, economic, and anti-LGBT injustice than in further criminalizing the individuals most marginalized by those systems.

Last week, Transgender Law Center and four other U.S.-based LGBT advocacy organizations issued a statement in support of Amnesty International’s call to decriminalize sex work. Yesterday’s action by the federal government is a clear demonstration of why LGBT organizations and people must be invested in this work to protect the human rights of sex workers. Laws criminalizing sexual exchange impede sex workers’ ability to negotiate condom use and other boundaries, and force many to work in hidden or remote places where they are more vulnerable to violence. Actions like the government’s raid contribute to the unjust and unacceptable systems and society we have today, from the disproportionate incarceration of Black transgender and gender non-conforming people to the epidemic of violence against transgender women of color.


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A criminal complaint was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging the CEO of, Jeffrey Hurant, and six employees with conspiring to violate the Travel Act by promoting prostitution. The defendants were arrested this morning and are scheduled to appear before United States Magistrate Judge Marilyn Go at the United States Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York.

The charges were announced by Kelly T. Currie, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Glenn Sorge, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York; and William J. Bratton, Commissioner, New York City Police Department.

As alleged in the complaint, is a male escort advertising site founded in 1997 which hosts thousands of paid advertisements. While the site has disclaimers stating that the advertisements are for companionship and not sexual services, is designed primarily for advertising illegal prostitution. The Web site charges subscribers a minimum monthly fee of $59.95 and up to several hundred dollars to advertise sexual services. Once the fee is paid, subscribers can select from a number of categories created by the sexual services they are willing to perform and the price charged. Subscribers can also include their physical descriptions and provide links to another Web site where their sexual services are rated by prior customers.

“As alleged, attempted to present a veneer of legality, when in fact this Internet brothel made millions of dollars from the promotion of illegal prostitution,” stated Acting United States Attorney Currie. Mr. Currie thanked the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Field Office in New York, and the District Attorney’s Office for New York County for their assistance in the investigation.

In addition, earlier today the government served warrants authorizing the seizure of over $1.4 million of alleged criminal proceeds from six bank accounts. The government also took steps to restrain the domain name

The charges in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted each defendant faces up to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.

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UN Security Council meeting challenges international community to develop more effective protections for LGBT persons Tue, 25 Aug 2015 17:46:04 +0000

The UN Security Council held its first-ever meeting on the persecution of homosexuals by Islamic State terrorists, Monday.

The closed-door session, sponsored by the U.S. and Chile,focused on LGBT rights and issues. According to The U.N. Security Council heard from two homosexual Arab men, including a Syrian named Subhi Nahas who has been resettled in the United States. The other gay man, who fled Iraq, phoned in from the Middle East

“It was a very moving meeting,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said after the session. “Again, we’re getting this issue into the DNA of the United Nations, but until today the Security Council had never broached this topic, and so today also represents a small but historic step.

“Everybody has read about what ISIL and what others are doing to LGBT people around the world, but it’s another thing entirely to hear personal testimonies. While others spoke, including members of the Security Council and other member States, photos also were projected that depicted what ISIL is doing to LGBT persons or those suspected of being LGBT.”

Power said that Monday’s meeting is a sign that this issue is getting ” …injected into the mainstream at the United Nations.”

Watch Power’s statement above.

White House NSC Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement following the meeting, “… Today’s session focused on ISIL’s atrocities targeted against LGBT persons and those perceived to be LGBT in Syria and Iraq. In highlighting acts of horrific brutality that these individuals have endured, today’s discussion challenged the international community to develop better and more effective protections for LGBT persons …”

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In a historic first, U.N. Security Council convenes to discuss LGBT rights Mon, 24 Aug 2015 22:45:06 +0000
Samantha Power Cristián Barros Melet

Samantha Power and Cristián Barros Melet

The U.S Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power and her Chilean counterpart Ambassador Cristián Barros Melet are holding the first ever U.N. Security Council meeting on LGBT rights later today.  Open to all U.N. member states, the gathering will focus on the appalling abuse and violence being perpetrated against LGBT people in areas in which ISIS exerts control.

As it continues its path of destruction across Iraq and Syria, ISIS has released several images and videos documenting the brutal execution of those accused of being LGBT. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has created a timeline of attacks against allegedly LGBT people, including executions that often involve throwing men from roof tops or stoning them to death. In a particularly shocking example, ISIS released videos of the public execution of four gay men on Twitter on the same day the U.S. Supreme  Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, using the hashtag “Love Wins.”

Ambassador Power and the Obama Administration have made clear that the rights of LGBT people are intrinsically part of America’s foreign policy and national security strategies. In 2011, President Obama declared that the “struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States’ commitment to promoting human rights.” More recently, President Obama explained in the 2015 State of the Union that protecting individuals, including those who are LGBT, is in the national security interests of the United States. Earlier this year, under the leadership of Secretary of State John Kerry, Randy Berry was appointed the first ever Special Envoy for LGBTI Human Rights.

“The gruesome images and videos documenting ISIS’s horrific violence are a haunting reminder of humankind’s capacity for evil,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “By convening this meeting, Ambassadors Power and Melet have made clear that these human rights abuses against LGBT people are not only deeply heinous and inhumane, but also a matter of utmost importance to global security.”

The situation for LGBT people around the world varies widely. As some countries embrace equality, in others, LGBT people continue to suffer from discrimination, persecution, and violence.

·  19 countries now have marriage equality and in two countries same-sex marriage is legal in certain jurisdictions.

·  But in 10 countries worldwide, same-sex activity is punishable by death, and 75 countries criminalize same-sex relationships. Hundreds of transgender individuals have been brutally murdered in the last year.

·  In a growing number of countries, governments have sought to silence equality advocates and organizations with so-called “anti-propaganda” laws and legislation.

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Jerusalem Gay Pride attacker charged with murder Mon, 24 Aug 2015 19:35:30 +0000

Today, Jerusalem’s District Court indicted Yishai Schlissel for murder for last month’s deadly attack during Jerusalem Pride, along with multiple attempted murder charges for those he wounded.

Last month, Schlissel went on a stabbing rampage at Jerusalem Pride killing Shira Banki and wounding five others.

Last Thursday, Schlissel was deemed fit to stand trial following a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation.

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New HRC polling shows strong support for Equality Act in swing house districts Thu, 20 Aug 2015 17:28:39 +0000

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)released new polling to show broad support for the newly introduced Equality Act in swing districts across the country. The Equality Act – which was introduced with a record number of original cosponsors — would ensure permanent non-discrimination protections for LGBT Americans.

“People across the country have embraced the very simple idea behind the Equality Act that everyone should live free from fear of discrimination and have a fair chance to earn a living and provide for their families, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president of Policy and Political Affairs. “Strong support from voters in Republican-held districts is another sign that members of Congress who won’t support the Equality Act risk being left behind next November.”

The polling finds freshman Carlos Curbelo tied and freshmen David Young and Cresent Hardy trail narrowly in a hypothetical re-election matchup with a Democrat. A significant percentage of the members’ current supporters in their districts report that they would be less likely to support their members for opposing the Equality Act, 14 percent of Young’s current supporters, 18 percent of Curbelo’s current supporters and 13 percent of Hardy’s current supporters. Those margins are large enough to put the incumbents behind a challenger by 5 to 8 percent. While Congressman Garrett and Dold start ahead –18 percent of their supporters said they would be less likely to support them — a margin big enough to reverse their leads and put Dold and Garrett behind a challenger.

Meanwhile, a 55 percent majority of Democrats in Congressman Dan Lipinski’s district say they’d be less likely to support him if he opposed the Equality Act.

Previously, HRC released two rounds of national polling that found bipartisan public support for a federal non-discrimination bill like the Equality Act. In March, HRC’s polling showed that nearly two-thirds of LGBT people have experienced discrimination in their lives. In June, 59 percent said they would be less likely to support a candidate for President who opposed a federal LGBT non-discrimination bill.

The Equality Act would help address the lack of clear, fully-inclusive non-discrimination protections in 31 states across the country where LGBT Americans can get legally married but remain at risk of losing their job or being denied services for who they are who they love.

Highlights from the polls by district:

#IA03 By a margin of 48 to 26, voters support passing the Equality Act

·         Freshman David Young trails a hypothetical Democratic challenger by 1 point and with underwater personal favorability ratings. Separately, 14 percent of his current supporters said they would be less likely to vote for him if he opposed the Equality Act.

#IL03 By a margin of 56 to 28, voters support passing the Equality Act

·         Incumbent Dan Lipinski leads a hypothetical Republican by a significant margin in his Democratic district. But 55 percent of Democrats said they would be less likely to support Lipinski, who has a history of opposing LGBT equality, if he opposed the Equality Act. Overall, 34 percent of his current supporters said they would be less likely to vote for him if he opposes the Equality Act.

#IL10 By a margin of 49 to 28, voters support passing the Equality Act

·         Incumbent Republican Bob Dold leads a hypothetical rematch with Brad Schneider by four points. Overall, 18 percent of his current supporters would be less likely to vote for Dold if he opposed the Equality Act. A plurality of undecided voters – 29 percent – also said they would be less likely to support Dold if he opposes the Equality Act.

#FL26 By a margin of 52 to 24, voters support passing the Equality Act

·         Freshman Republican Carlos Curbelo starts out tied in a hypothetical matchup with Democrat Annette Taddeo. Overall, 18 percent of his current supporters would be less likely to vote for Dold if he opposed the Equality Act. A plurality of undecided voters – 29 percent – also said they would be less likely to support Curbelo if he opposes the Equality Act.

#NJ05 By a margin of 55 to 22, voters support passing the Equality Act

·         Incumbent Republican Scott Garrett — who recently made news for his anti-LGBT comments — starts out with a lead in a hypothetical matchup with Democrat Josh Gottheimer, but is under 50 percent with a slightly negative favorability rating. And 18 percent of his current supporters said they would be less likely to support Garrett if he opposes the Equality Act.

#NV04 By a margin of 47 to 31, voters support passing the Equality Act

·         Freshman Republican Cresent Hardy starts out behind a generic Democrat in a hypothetical re-election with mixed favorability ratings and low name ID. Separately, 13 percent of his current supporters said they would be less likely to vote for Hardy if he opposes the Equality Act.

#WI01 By a margin of 46 to 23, voters support passing the Equality Act

·         Incumbent Republican Paul Ryan heads into 2016 with a lead against a generic Democrat in a hypothetical re-election. But 11 percent of his current supporters said they would be less likely to vote for Ryan if he opposes the Equality Act. And a 27 percent plurality of undecided voters said they would be more likely to oppose a candidate who did not support the Equality Act.

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RNC quietly passes anti-LGBT resolution Tue, 18 Aug 2015 22:15:59 +0000

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus | Photo: Gage Skidmore

The Republican National Committee (RNC) has passed an anti-LGBT resolution in support of the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA). Going far beyond protecting the rights established in the First Amendment, this anti-LGBT legislation would undermine the rule of law and promote taxpayer-funded discrimination.

FADA would prohibit any adverse action by the federal government against an individual or organization for discriminatory actions against legally married same-sex couples as long as they claim they are acting in accordance with their religious beliefs. “Adverse action” is broadly defined to include the denial or revocation of a federal tax status or deduction; denial of a federal grant, contract, loan, benefit or employment; or any other act of discrimination. The bill provides individuals and organizations the right to sue the federal government for monetary damages in federal court.

If passed, this legislation would create a breakdown of government services and runaway litigation. It would permit a federal employee, for example, to refuse to process tax returns, visa applications or Social Security checks whenever a same-sex couple’s paperwork appears on his or her desk.

This legislation would also permit recipients of federal grants and contracts, including those for social services programs like homeless shelters and substance abuse treatment programs, to turn away LGBT people.  It allows any of these individuals or groups, or anyone else who believes they have been somehow required by the federal government to approve of married same-sex couples, to file a lawsuit and potentially receive damages from taxpayer money.

“The right to believe is fundamental, but the right to use taxpayer dollars to promote discrimination is not,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president for Policy and Political Affairs for the Human Rights Campaign. “It’s no wonder the RNC attempted to keep quiet its support for a reckless and irresponsible bill that would promote discrimination with taxpayers’ money and reward discriminatory actions by federal employees with taxpayer funding. Those Republican candidates who choose not to speak out against this RNC resolution should not be shocked when LGBT Americans choose to not give them the benefit of the doubt next November.”

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Rosie O’Donnell tweets that teen daughter Chelsea is missing Tue, 18 Aug 2015 20:58:23 +0000

Comedienne Rosie O’Donnell has tweeted that her seventeen year-old daughter, Chelsea, has gone missing.

According to O’Donnell Chelsea was last seen Tuesday Aug. 11. O’Donnell posted the following on her Web site:

Rosie O’Donnell’s 17 year old daughter, Chelsea O’Donnell was reported missing. Nyack, New York police authorities have been looking for her in the Rockland County area since Sunday, August 16. She was last seen Tuesday, August 11. She was wearing a black sweatshirt hoodie, dark ripped blue jeans, women’s grey converse sneakers and a black backpack. Chelsea has a large tattoo on her right side of a dream catcher with the word ‘Breathe.’ She left home with her 6 month old therapy dog named Bear. The dog is a 9 lbs brown and black terrier. Chelsea stopped taking her medicine and is in need of medical attention. Any information please contact authorities at 845-358-0206 or 911.

O’Donnell, 53, also posted a photo of Chelsea and her dog. O’Donnell says her daughter may be in New York City — about 25 miles south of her home in Nyack, New York.

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Gov. Brown signs bill protecting grocery workers’ jobs Mon, 17 Aug 2015 23:55:45 +0000

SACRAMENTO A bill by California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to protect grocery workers from being fired because of changes in store ownership was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown today in the wake of the news that several Haggen stores will soon undergo another change of ownership since being acquired in the Safeway-Albertson’s merger less than a year ago.

Assembly Bill 359 protects grocery employees working in stores of at least 15,000 square feet from being fired during a 90-day transition period if the grocery store is undergoing a change of ownership. Following the transition period, the new employer must provide a written performance evaluation and consider an offer of continued employment following a satisfactory evaluation. Employers would retain the right to terminate an employee for cause at any time during and following the transition period.

AB 359 is the first statewide law in the nation to require grocery stores to retain employees after a change in ownership.

“Wall Street mergers and acquisitions that make big money for corporations and private equity firms should not jeopardize jobs of the grocery workers who live and work in our communities,” said Gonzalez. “This is a common sense opportunity to save people’s jobs and make sure the most experienced, best prepared workers stay on the job during a complicated transition period.”

Brown’s approval of AB 359 comes just days after Haggen Inc. announced it will be putting up 27 stores – 16 in California, including 3 locations in Assemblywoman Gonzalez’s district in southern San Diego County – for sale after the company acquired the stores as part of last year’s $9 billion giant grocery merger. The news put thousands of middle-class grocery jobs – many of those in San Diego County – in jeopardy.

Gov. Brown’s approval of the new law was hailed by worker advocates as a victory for protecting middle class jobs.

“The grocery industry is changing at a fast and furious pace and that can create a lot of uncertainty for the employees that have made these stores so profitable,” said Mickey Kasparian, president for the San Diego-based United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 135. “It’s important that workers have a fair chance to keep their jobs and we are ecstatic that Assemblywoman Gonzalez and Governor Brown found common ground in protecting these workers and their families by AB 359 into law today.”

California currently boasts an estimated 383,900 employees of large grocery stores whose jobs could be protected by AB359 during large grocery mergers or sales. The cities of San Francisco, Santa Monica, Alameda, Gardena and Los Angeles have adopted have local ordinances containing similar protections to retain workers. While California would be the first state in the nation to pass a statewide grocery worker retention law, AB 359 would not be the first worker retention bill of its kind in California, as janitorial maintenance employees are currently protected during a change of contractor at a worksite under the Displaced Janitor Opportunity Act (SB 20, 2001).

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Michael Sam ‘Stepping Away’ from football Sat, 15 Aug 2015 01:22:12 +0000

Michael Sam, the first out gay player to be drafted into the NFL, announced Friday he is leaving football.

In a series of Tweets Sam said he was ‘Stepping away’ from the game, reported Buzzfeed. He cited ‘concerns for his mental health’ over the last 12 months.

In May, Sam joined the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

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Chris Christie laughs off his veto of trans bill Thu, 13 Aug 2015 20:59:49 +0000

Chris Christie

Today, during an interview with conservative radio host Michael Medved, Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie laughed about his recent veto of legislation that would have streamlined the process in his state for transgender people to change the gender marker on their birth certificates. On the show, Christie defended the veto by saying, “certain things go beyond the pale.”
The Washington Blade reported Christie as saying, “Listen, for people who do not have a sex-change operation, all the bill required was somebody that who would seek a doctor’s treatment and that that doctor would verify they felt like the opposite gender.”

“I have to tell the truth, Michael, there are certain things that just go beyond the pale, and that’s not what I wanted the law to be in New Jersey,” Christie added. “It doesn’t make any sense to me, and that’s why I vetoed it again, and if they send it to me again, I will veto it again.”

When Medved responded with a remark about being “dangerously conservative,” Christie could be heard on the other line chuckling.

This week marks the second time in two years that Gov. Christie has vetoed a bill that would have made it easier for transgender residents to obtain an appropriate birth certificate reflecting their identity. The bill he vetoed (S1195) would have allowed state agencies to change a birth certificate as long as proof was provided that the individual was undergoing gender transition. Currently, transgender New Jerseyans can only obtain an updated birth certificate if they have undergone gender reassignment surgery, which is not always necessary or safe and can be cost-prohibitive for low-income people. This year, states like Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Maryland have updated their laws to remove these barriers for transgender people. Nationally, only 1 in 5 transgender people (21%) have been able to update all their identification documents and records, including birth certificates, to reflect their appropriate name and gender.
“It was bad enough that Governor Christie vetoed this bill. Now he has added insult to injury by demeaning the entire transgender community,” said HRC Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof. “What’s really beyond the pale is that a sitting governor, much less a candidate for the presidency, would use such offensive and harmful rhetoric in 2015. Chris Christie should immediately apologize.”
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Kentucky county clerk violates federal judge’s order to issue marriage licenses Thu, 13 Aug 2015 17:30:51 +0000

Despite a ruling from a federal judge that requires a Kentucky county clerk to process marriage licenses for all couples, this morning Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis violated that order by refusing to process a same-sex marriage license.

Zack Ford writes on Think Progress Davis refused to have her name on same-sex couples’ marriage licenses because of her religious beliefs and so decided her office would not process licenses for any couples. According to District Judge David L. Bunning, Davis’ job of authorizing valid marriage licenses does not violate her religious liberty nor her freedom of speech. “Our form of government will not survive unless we, as a society, agree to respect the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions, regardless of our personal opinions,” he writes. “Davis is certainly free to disagree with the Court’s opinion, as many Americans likely do, but that does not excuse her from complying with it. To hold otherwise would set a dangerous precedent.”

Davis has appealed the decision and asked for a stay of the injunction, but she has not yet successfully obtained a stay. Thus, her refusal to issue a license Thursday morning was in clear violation of Bunning’s order. See Zack Ford’s full report here.

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NYPD arrest man in connection with hate crime attack against West Point gay couple Wed, 12 Aug 2015 18:47:03 +0000

Larry and Daniel Lennox-Choate | Photo: Facebook

A man who allegedly attacked the first gay couple to be married at West Point has been arrested by police in New York.

According to the Advocate, Thomas Clabough, 57, of Queens was to face a judge Wednesday, on charges of assault and attempted assault as a hate crime.

Aug. 2 Clabough entered a deli on Prince Street in lower Manhattan to buy a beer, and saw Daniel and Larry Lennox-Choate and allegedly began yelling anti-gay slurs at the couple and then punched Daniel in the face.

Larry took up the story on his Facebook page, “It’s hard to believe that in 2015 we would have to deal with anti-gay hate crimes in soho of all places but that’s what happened today. First off- we’re ok. Aside from one fat lip and a sore punching arm, we are fine. The guy who screamed anti-gay obscenities at us in a bodega before sucker-punching Danny? He left covered in his own blood with his tail between his legs after I handled the situation and tossed him in the street like the coward loser he is. The hate crimes division of the NYPD is on the case and we have full faith a positive outcome will follow. We refuse to be victims and are thankful we can defend ourselves, but are saddened by the fact that idiots like this guy might not pick two guys who went through Plebe Boxing next time.”



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Australian Prime Minister Abbott denies parliament conscience vote on marriage equality Tue, 11 Aug 2015 21:52:47 +0000

Tony Abbott

A push to allow Liberal and National members of the Australian parliament a conscience vote on marriage equality has failed, with approximately two thirds of the Coalition party room against.

Prime Minister Abbott met with members of the governing coalition who determined that party members will be forced to vote according to party lines, even if they wish to support marriage equality legislation. Though Prime Minister Tony Abbott remains a staunch opponent of marriage equality, members of his own party support the proposal and were expected to cross party lines if a conscience vote had been allowed.

“Clearly, opponents of marriage equality in the Coalition know they don’t have the numbers on the floor of the House, or they wouldn’t be so scared of a free vote,” said Australian Marriage Equality National Director Rodney Croome. “You can’t stop love, and if this Parliament fails to achieve marriage equality, we will make sure the next one will.”

On Sunday, Australian Marriage Equality launched a robust and innovative campaign to win the fight for marriage equality, using social media, television ads, and other elements to share a message of love and support for same-sex couples.  As legislators returned to Canberra, the capital of Australia, they were welcomed with a clear message at the airport: a terminal lit up in rainbow colors and a huge sign broadcasting “#WeCanDoThis.”

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IBM, Oracle, Orbitz, and Symantec join other corporations in announcing support for federal LGBT non-discrimination legislation Thu, 06 Aug 2015 18:00:24 +0000

WASHINGTONFour new major American companies have become the latest to endorse the Equality Act, federal legislation that would establish full, federal equality for all LGBT Americans.  In doing so, these leading companies – IBM, Oracle, Orbitz, and Symantec – made clear that they  believe all LGBT Americans should have the protections from discrimination in federal law that they deserve.

They join American Airlines, Apple, The Dow Chemical Company, Facebook, General Mills, Google, Levi Strauss & Co., Microsoft, and Nike as part of a national business coalition supporting comprehensive, federal LGBT non-discrimination protections.

Additionally, Hewlett-Packard in Fortune recently announced its support for the Equality Act.

STATEMENT BY IBM: “IBM’s workplace culture is built on the principles of non-discrimination and equal opportunity for all. We established a corporate policy on equal opportunity more than a decade before the Civil Rights Act. We championed an industry-leading policy of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation over 30 years ago, and expanded it in 2002 to cover gender identity and expression. IBM is proud to support the Equality Act and maintains our steadfast support for all employees to experience equality in the workplace.”

STATEMENT BY ORBITZ: “At Orbitz we’ve been advocates of equality and inclusion since our founding in 2001. Our support for the Equality Act is consistent with our other actions, such as signing the amicus brief calling on the Supreme Court to find gay marriage bans unconstitutional.”

STATEMENT BY SYMANTEC: “At Symantec, we are proud to support full and equal rights for the LGBT community. We believe having a diversity of perspectives ensures we make better business decisions and the products and services we offer meet the needs of the broad spectrum of people we serve worldwide, which is why we couldn’t be more proud to support the expansion of legal protections.  We unequivocally support the Equality Act – for the future of our business and society.”

All of these major companies scored a perfect 100 on HRC’s annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a nationally-recognized benchmark of LGBT inclusion in the workplace, and were recognized on HRC’s list of Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality in 2015.

“Momentum for the Equality Act continues to grow as the American business community stands up for diversity, inclusion and equality — principles critical to the success of any company,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “We are tremendously grateful to these corporate leaders for their support of the Equality Act and the basic principle that all Americans should be able to live their lives free of discrimination. A growing number of companies agree — equality is good for business and the time for full federal equality is now.”

Earlier this year, more than 120 prominent leaders in the tech industry called on legislatures across the nation to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes to their civil rights laws, and to explicitly forbid discrimination or denial of services to anyone.

Last week, Ted Olson and David Boies, the bipartisan legal team that represented the plaintiffs in the Hollingsworth v. Perry case that challenged California’s Proposition 8 and was ultimately heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, came out in support of a comprehensive federal LGBT non-discrimination law.

The results of a new Democracy Corps survey from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research released last week indicates that support for non-discrimination legislation unites the country. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of likely Republican voters support protecting LGBT people from workplace discrimination, as do 90 percent of Democrats. Similarly, this legislation draws impressive majorities of support among college (84 percent) and non-college voters (73 percent), younger (85 percent) and older voters (75 percent), as well as observant Christians (70 percent).

In March, polling conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) revealed that nearly two-thirds of LGBT Americans (63 percent) have faced discrimination in their lives, with LGBT people reporting workplace discrimination as the most frequently experienced form of discrimination.

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Maine court rules NOM must release donor list Tue, 04 Aug 2015 21:14:19 +0000

Today, Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the fiercely anti-LGBT National Organization for Marriage (NOM) must release a donor list in connection with the state’s marriage referendum campaign in 2009.

The Bangor Daily News reported that NOM has already paid a record-breaking fine of $50,250 to the Maine Ethics Commission and registered as a ballot question committee, but it continues to resist revealing its national donor list. The organization had requested a stay on the release of that list while its case against the ethics commission is pending in the Law Court, but today’s decision essentially denies that request.

Last year, the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices staff issued a report concluding that NOM intentionally violated Maine law after it failed to register or report its activities. NOM played a central role in co-managing and funding a $3 million campaign against marriage equality.

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16-year-old girl injured in Jerusalem Pride attack dies Mon, 03 Aug 2015 18:57:16 +0000

Shira Banki

Shira Banki, a 16-year-old girl who was injured during last week’s attack on Jerusalem Pride, died on Sunday. Banki was marching to support her LGBT friends when a right-wing extremist, Yishai Schlissel, breached the perimeter of the parade and attacked those around him with a knife. Though there were police present throughout the parade, six people, including Banki, were stabbed before they could contain him.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that Banki’s family issued the following statement:

“Our magical Shira was murdered because she was a happy 16-year-old – full of life and love – who came to express her support for her friends’ rights to live as they choose. For no good reason and because of evil, stupidity and negligence, the life of our beautiful flower was cut short. Bad things happen to good people, and a very bad thing happened to our amazing girl,” the family said in a statement, which also expressed “hope for less hatred and more tolerance.”

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement: “The murder at the pride parade in the streets of Jerusalem is a criminal act, and we won’t let it achieve its objective. We’ll continue to allow complete free expression in the city for everyone, continue to support all the groups and communities in the city and Open House. We’ll continue the education to accept the other and tolerance in the education system and won’t be deterred by those who try to prevent this by foul methods.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered condolences to the Banki family in a statement.

“Shira was murdered because she courageously supported the principle according to which everyone is entitled to live their lives in dignity and safety,” Netanyahu said Sunday. “We will not allow the abhorrent murderer to undermine the fundamental values upon which Israeli society is based. We strongly condemn the attempt to instill hatred and violence in our midst and we will deal with the murderer to the fullest extent of the law.”

Yishai Schlissel, a haredi Orthodox man from Modiin Ilit in the West Bank, remains in police custody after being deemed psychologically fit to stand trial on Friday, a day after he allegedly stabbed six marchers. Schlissel had been released from prison three weeks earlier after serving 10 years for a similar attack at Jerusalem’s 2005 gay pride parade.

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Multiple Stabbing at Jerusalem Pride Parade Fri, 31 Jul 2015 00:15:03 +0000

Late on Thursday six people were stabbed while participating in an LGBT Pride Parade in Jerusalem. The perpetrator, Yishai Schlissel, is an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man who also stabbed victims at the same event in 2005. Schlissel was just released for that crime last month after serving ten years in prison.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promptly condemned the stabbings as “a most serious incident” that is antithetical to Israeli values. “A despicable hate crime was committed this evening in Jerusalem,” he said. “In Israel everyone, including the gay community, has the right to live in peace, and we will defend that right. I welcome the Israeli religious leadership’s condemnation of this terrible crime, and I call on all those in positions of leadership to denounce this contemptible act. In the name of all of Israelis, I wish the wounded a full and speedy recovery.”

Full story at the Jerusalem Post:

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Executive Order — Implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States for 2015-2020 Thu, 30 Jul 2015 17:16:10 +0000

Today, President Obama signed an Executive Order on Implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States for 2015-2020. The Ececutive Order is reproduced below:

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to ensure improved health outcomes for Americans at risk for or living with HIV/AIDS and achieve greater coordination across the Federal Government, I hereby order as follows:

Section 1. Policy. My Administration has made substantial progress in addressing the domestic HIV epidemic since the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States (Strategy), the first of its kind, was released in July 2010. The Strategy has served as a blueprint for executive departments and agencies (agencies) as well as for community partners in the private and nonprofit sectors. This effort has led to increased coordination and collaboration among agencies and fostered the use of evidence-based policy approaches for improving HIV prevention and care.

Federal, State, and local agencies have contributed to significant improvements in health outcomes through their enhanced focus on the HIV care continuum — the sequential stages of care from being diagnosed to achieving viral suppression. Our partners across all levels of government and all sectors of society have also worked to ensure that all Americans living with HIV/AIDS receive our full support at every stage of their illness.

Further, my Administration has been committed to reducing the HIV-related disparities experienced by certain populations, including gay and bisexual men of all races and ethnicities, Black women and men, Latino women and men, people who inject drugs, youth aged 13-24, people in the Southern United States, and transgender women. Addressing the intersection between HIV/AIDS, violence against women and girls, and gender-related health disparities has also been a priority. The Working Group on the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence Against Women and Girls, and Gender-related Health Disparities established in my memorandum of March 30, 2012, has focused its efforts on increasing screenings for HIV and intimate partner violence, addressing violence and trauma when supporting women in HIV care, and expanding public education efforts across all levels of government regarding HIV and violence against women and girls.

Today, I am releasing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States: Updated to 2020 (Updated Strategy) to build on this progress. The Updated Strategy integrates the recommendations of the HIV Care Continuum Working Group, established in Executive Order 13649 of July 15, 2013 (HIV Care Continuum Initiative), and the recommendations of the Working Group on the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence Against Women and Girls, and Gender-related Health Disparities, so that their work can inform the Nation’s response to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic. The Updated Strategy also takes into account recent research advancements in our understanding of HIV/AIDS, and builds on the historic successes of the Affordable Care Act, which is helping millions of Americans, including those who are living with HIV, access affordable, quality health care.

This order is designed to ensure successful implementation of the Updated Strategy by requiring coordination and collaboration by, and accountability of, the Federal Government; fostering enhanced and innovative partnerships with State, tribal, and local governments; and encouraging the commitment of all parts of society. The duties and authorities this order assigns are in addition to those assigned by my memorandum of July 13, 2010 (Implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy). In light of recent progress and continuing challenges, we must continue to improve our national effort to reduce new HIV infections, increase access to care for people living with HIV, reduce HIV-related disparities and health inequities, and achieve greater coordination across all levels of government.

Sec. 2. Role of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP). (a) The Director of ONAP, in consultation with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), shall be responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Updated Strategy.

(b) The Director of ONAP shall annually report to the President on the implementation of the Updated Strategy, including progress in meeting key targets and taking key actions identified in the Updated Strategy and the Federal Action Plan, an annual guidepost developed by ONAP in conjunction with agencies, designed to implement new efforts to address the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Sec. 3. Lead Agency Responsibilities. While the Updated Strategy will require a Government-wide effort in order to succeed fully, certain agencies have primary responsibilities and competencies in implementing the Updated Strategy.

(a) Designation of Lead Agencies. Lead agencies for implementing the Updated Strategy shall be:
(i) the Department of Defense;
(ii) the Department of Justice;
(iii) the Department of the Interior;
(iv) the Department of Labor;
(v) the Department of Health and Human Services;
(vi) the Department of Housing and Urban Development;
(vii) the Department of Education;
(viii) the Department of Veterans Affairs;
(ix) the Department of Homeland Security; and
(x) the Social Security Administration.

(b) Lead Agency Action Plans. Within 100 days of the date of this order, the head of each lead agency shall submit a report to ONAP and OMB on the agency’s action plan for implementing the Updated Strategy. The plans shall assign responsibilities to agency officials, designate reporting structures for actions identified in the Federal Action Plan, and identify other appropriate actions to advance the Updated Strategy. The plans shall also include steps to strengthen coordination in planning, budgeting for, and evaluating domestic HIV/AIDS programs within and across agencies. Lead agencies are encouraged to consider, and reflect in their plans, steps to streamline grantee reporting requirements and funding announcements related to HIV/AIDS programs and activities.

(c) Ongoing Responsibilities of Lead Agencies. The head of each lead agency shall:
(i) designate an official responsible for coordinating the agency’s ongoing efforts to implement the Updated Strategy;
(ii) develop and support a process for sharing progress reports, including status updates on achieving specific quantitative targets established by the Updated Strategy, with relevant agencies and ONAP on an annual basis, or at such other times as ONAP requests; and
(iii) in consultation with OMB, use the budget development process to prioritize programs and activities most critical to meeting the goals of the Updated Strategy.

Sec. 4. Other Agency Responsibilities. All agencies that support HIV/AIDS programs and activities shall ensure that, to the extent permitted by law, they are meeting the goals of the Updated Strategy.

(a) Department of State. Within 100 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of State shall submit to ONAP and OMB recommendations for improving the Government-wide response to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic, based on lessons learned in implementing the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief program.

(b) Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Commission). Within 100 days of the date of this order, the Chair of the Commission shall submit to ONAP and OMB recommendations for increasing employment opportunities for people living with HIV and a plan for addressing employment-related discrimination against people living with HIV, consistent with the Commission’s authorities and other applicable law.

Sec. 5. Role of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA). The PACHA, which was established by Executive Order 12963 of June 14, 1995 (Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS), as amended, shall monitor the implementation of the Updated Strategy and make recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary) and to the Director of ONAP, as appropriate, concerning implementation and progress in achieving the Updated Strategy’s goals.

Sec. 6. National HIV/AIDS Strategy Federal Interagency Working Group. There is established the National HIV/AIDS Strategy Federal Interagency Working Group (Federal Interagency Working Group) to support the implementation of the Updated Strategy.

(a) Membership. The Federal Interagency Working Group shall be co-chaired by the Director of ONAP and the Secretary or their designees. In addition to the Co-Chairs, the Federal Interagency Working Group shall consist of representatives from each lead agency, OMB, and any other agency or office designated by the Co-Chairs.

(b) Consultation. The Federal Interagency Working Group shall consult with the PACHA, as appropriate.

(c) Outreach. The Federal Interagency Working Group shall hold regular meetings and conduct outreach with representatives of private and nonprofit organizations, State, tribal, and local governments and agencies, elected officials, and other interested persons to assist the Federal Interagency Working Group in its efforts.

(d) Functions. As part of its efforts, the Federal Interagency Working Group shall:
(i) request and review information from agencies describing their efforts to implement the Updated Strategy;
(ii) share and disseminate best practices to combat the HIV epidemic among agencies and other stakeholders;
(iii) integrate new HIV-related research results into the overall implementation of the Updated Strategy;
(iv) obtain input from community partners, scientific and technical experts, and stakeholders in State, tribal, and local governments to inform implementation of the Updated Strategy;
(v) increase government and public awareness of HIV-related issues;
(vi) specify how to better align and coordinate Federal efforts, both within and across agencies, to improve health outcomes for Americans at risk for or living with HIV; and
(vii) integrate the Working Group on the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence Against Women and Girls, and Gender-related Health Disparities into the implementation of the Updated Strategy.
(e) Reporting.
(i) Within 100 days of the date of this order, the Federal Interagency Working Group shall provide recommendations to the President on actions that agencies should take to implement the Updated Strategy through 2020.
(ii) The Director of ONAP shall include, as part of the Director’s annual report to the President, a report prepared by the Federal Interagency Working Group concerning Government-wide progress in implementing the Updated Strategy.

Sec. 7. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of OMB relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

July 30, 2015.

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Microsoft supports the Equality Act Wed, 29 Jul 2015 21:41:34 +0000

This morning, Microsoft announced its support for The Equality Act, a comprehensive federal LGBT non-discrimination legislation.

“To create technology that empowers the world, we need to reflect the diversity of the world,” Microsoft said in a statement. “Supporting diversity, inclusiveness and equal treatment is not just good for business, it is also the right thing to do. That’s why we support the protections for LGBT Americans as outlined in The Equality Act.”

Microsoft joins a number of leading American corporations, including American Airlines, Facebook, Nike, General Mills, Google, Apple, The Dow Chemical Company, and Levi Strauss & Co, in support of federal LGBT non-discrimination protections.

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Boy Scouts of America ends its ban on gay leaders and volunteers (VIDEO) Mon, 27 Jul 2015 23:59:35 +0000

Today, the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) ratified a resolution that removed the national restriction on openly gay adult leaders and employees. Of those present and voting, 79 percent voted in favor of the resolution. The resolution was recommended for ratification by the Executive Committee earlier this month. The resolution is effective immediately.

The new policy, which bars discrimination based on the sexual orientation of organization employees, still allows church-organized local units to consider an individual’s sexual orientation when deciding who can volunteer and lead Cub Scout packs, Boy Scout troops, and Venturing crews.

According to a release issued by the BSA today: “Chartered organizations will continue to select their adult leaders and religious chartered organizations may continue to use religious beliefs as criteria for selecting adult leaders, including matters of sexuality. This change allows Scouting’s members and parents to select local units, chartered to organizations with similar beliefs, that best meet the needs of their families. This change also respects the right of religious chartered organizations to choose adult volunteer leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own.

“Moving forward, we will continue to focus on reaching and serving youth, helping them grow into good, strong citizens. By focusing on the goals that unite us, we are able to accomplish incredible things for young people and the communities we serve.”

Watch National BSA President Dr. Robert M. Gates speaking on the policy change in the video above.

HRC President Chad Griffin issued the following statement on the BSA announcement, “Today’s vote by the Boy Scouts of America to allow gay, lesbian and bisexual adults to work and volunteer is a welcome step toward erasing a stain on this important organization. But including an exemption for troops sponsored by religious organizations undermines and diminishes the historic nature of today’s decision. Discrimination should have no place in the Boy Scouts, period.

“BSA officials should now demonstrate true leadership and begin the process of considering a full national policy of inclusion that does not allow discrimination against anyone because of who they are.”

Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) released the following statement regarding the Boy Scouts of America change in policy, “Today is another step forward for equality, with the Boy Scouts of America finally joining other youth organizations in ending its ban on gay leaders and volunteers. I am hopeful we will see even more progress from the Boy Scouts going forward. Because the lifting of the ban still allows some chapters to refuse gay leaders and volunteers, however, I’m sure we can expect some pockets of opposition to remain, much like we’ve seen with some county clerks refusing to issue marriage licenses. Given the ‘sea change’ the Boy Scouts noted in the decision to lift the ban, I believe that opposition will find themselves on the wrong side of history.”

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Presidential proclamation — World Hepatitis Day, 2015 Mon, 27 Jul 2015 23:11:06 +0000

Today the White House released the following presidential proclamation regarding World Hepatitis Day, July 28, 2015:

Around the world, doctors, medical researchers, and other professionals dedicated to health care and public health are working hard every day to combat disease and build healthier communities. Their efforts have led to improved sanitation, cleaner water, better access to care, and improvements in how we diagnose, treat, and prevent disease. Today, on World Hepatitis Day, we join in these efforts to improve lives here at home and abroad by raising awareness of a silent epidemic and reaffirming our commitment to combat it.

Nearly 400 million people worldwide are living with viral hepatitis, and more than 1 million people die each year from this disease. Yet because hepatitis often persists silently for years before revealing any symptoms, many — including about two-thirds of the Americans who live with it — are unaware of their infection status, which can lead to long-term liver damage and death.

Prevention and early detection are essential to saving lives. Safe and effective vaccines for hepatitis A and B are widely available, and simple blood tests for hepatitis B and C can lead to early detection and life-saving care and treatment, including the cure of the infection. I encourage all Americans to ask their health care provider about hepatitis, and to learn more by visiting

As President, I am committed to advancing the fight against viral hepatitis infections. The Affordable Care Act has increased access to quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans — creating more opportunities for early detection of viral hepatitis — and it requires most insurance plans to cover recommended preventive services without copays, including hepatitis A and B vaccines and hepatitis B and C screenings. New protections under the law also eliminate annual and lifetime dollar limits on coverage and prohibit insurers from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions, including hepatitis.

Guided by our Action Plan for the Prevention, Care, and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis, my Administration is working with government, private, and non-profit organizations to ensure that new cases of viral hepatitis are prevented. We also remain invested in addressing related health issues such as liver cancer, HIV infection, and substance use disorders, and the disproportionate impact viral hepatitis infections have on African Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and American Indians and Alaska Natives, as well as our Nation’s young people.

Today, we renew our commitment to those impacted by hepatitis and to all those we have lost to this disease. Let us resolve to break the silence surrounding hepatitis, and redouble our efforts to defeat it in all its forms.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim July 28, 2015, as World Hepatitis Day. I encourage citizens, Government agencies, non-profit organizations, and communities across the Nation to join in activities that will increase awareness about hepatitis and what we can do to prevent it.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-seventh day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.


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Transgender woman murdered in Fresno Fri, 24 Jul 2015 16:08:26 +0000

KMPH FOX 26 | Central San Joaquin Valley News Source

FRESNO, Calif. — A 66-year-old transgender woman was murdered in Fresno, Calif. Thursday night in what appears to be a brutal premeditated attack.

KMPH reports that surveillance video shows Kenton Haggard of Fresno walking down Blackstone near Cornell in central Fresno. An SUV with several people inside makes a turn and then the driver calls over to the person. After a few minutes of talking the transgender woman leans down in the window and then someone stabs her directly in the neck with a knife.
The SUV then takes off.

Haggard tries to flag down a passing car, but when it doesn’t stop she stumbles down the street and falls to the ground.
The video shows several people came over to Haggard but none appeared to help her. The people then left the scene.

Karen Adell Scot, the founder of, told KMPH, “It was premeditated, and it was thought out. They had the knife ready. They baited the person to the vehicle and they followed through with tremendous precision on the strike.”

Haggard becomes the 11th transgender person murdered in the US since the beginning of the year. Anyone with information about this crime is urged to call the Fresno Police Department at 559-621-2449.

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Major corporations announce support for landmark federal LGBT non-discrimination legislation Thu, 23 Jul 2015 16:24:55 +0000

WASHINGTON – In advance of this afternoon’s introduction of the historic Equality Act in Congress, today 3 major American companies announced their support for comprehensive federal non-discrimination legislation that would establish full, federal equality for all LGBT Americans.  Each of the leading corporations – which include Apple, The Dow Chemical Company, and Levi Strauss & Co., – released the following statements making clear that they believe all LGBT Americans should have the protections from discrimination in federal law that they deserve.

STATEMENT BY APPLE – “At Apple we believe in equal treatment for everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. We fully support the expansion of legal protections as a matter of basic human dignity.”

STATEMENT BY THE DOW CHEMICAL COMPANY – “Dow applauds the introduction of the Equality Act and continues to support a comprehensive federal framework that ensures fairness and opportunity for everyone.  Full inclusion of our LGBT colleagues and citizens is quite simply the right thing to do – for business and for society.”

STATEMENT BY LEVI STRAUSS & CO. – “Levi Strauss & Co. is proud to support the Equality Act. We have a long history of supporting LGBT equality, and the time has come in this country for full, federal equality for the LGBT community. Ensuring fairness in our workplaces and communities is both the right thing to do and simply good business.”

Each of the three major companies scored a perfect 100 on HRC’s annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a nationally recognized benchmark of LGBT inclusion in the workplace, and were recognized on HRC’s list of Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality in 2015.

“These remarkable companies have proven once again their tremendous leadership on behalf of LGBT Americans,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Time and again, these leaders of Corporate America have asked ‘what more can we do?,’ and each time they’ve stepped up to the plate and delivered.  As the fight for full, federal equality enters a new chapter, I am tremendously thankful that we have these champions standing shoulder to shoulder with us.”

Earlier this year, over 120 prominent leaders in the tech industry called on “legislatures to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes to their civil rights laws and to explicitly forbid discrimination or denial of services to anyone.”

Yesterday, Ted Olson and David Boies, the bipartisan legal team that represented the plaintiffs in the Hollingsworth v. Perry case that challenged California’s Proposition 8, and was ultimately heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, came out in support of a comprehensive federal LGBT non-discrimination law.

The results of a new Democracy Corps survey from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research released yesterday indicates that support for non-discrimination legislation unites the country. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of likely Republican voters support protecting LGBT people from workplace discrimination, as do 90 percent of Democrats. Similarly, this legislation draws impressive majorities of support among college (84 percent) and non-college voters (73 percent), younger (85 percent) and older voters (75 percent), as well as observant Christians (70 percent).

In March, polling conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) revealed that nearly two-thirds of LGBT Americans (63 percent) have faced discrimination in their lives, with LGBT people reporting workplace discrimination as the most frequently experienced form of discrimination.

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New poll: 59 percent of voters less likely to support candidates who oppose non-discrimination protections Wed, 22 Jul 2015 20:00:17 +0000

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released the results of a new Democracy Corps survey from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, demonstrating that 59%  of likely 2016 voters are less likely to support a candidate who opposes non-discrimination protections for LGBT people.  These results come just before a new federal LGBT non-discrimination bill is expected to be introduced in Congress.

“Opposing LGBT non-discrimination protections is costly and will grow costlier by the day,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs. “The overwhelming majority of voters who believe that LGBT people should be protected from discrimination in the workplace – a value that reaches across party lines – also makes clear that the time to pass explicit, comprehensive LGBT non-discrimination protections is long overdue.”

In March, polling conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for HRC revealed that nearly two-thirds of LGBT Americans (63 percent) have faced discrimination in their lives, with LGBT people reporting workplace discrimination the most frequently experienced form of discrimination.

Key findings of the new Democracy Corps survey:

  • Voters reject discrimination. By an impressive 78 percent to 16 percent, voters support protecting LGBT people from discrimination in employment. These results are very consistent with past surveys; in 2011, voters supported this proposal by a 79 to 18 percent margin.

  • Support for non-discrimination unites the country. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of likely Republican voters support protecting LGBT people from workplace discrimination, as do 90 percent of Democrats. Similarly, this legislation draws impressive majorities of support among college (84 percent) and non-college voters (73 percent), younger (85 percent) and older (75 percent), as well as observant Christians (70 percent).

  • Voters will also consider this issue when voting next year. Nearly six-in-ten (59 percent) voters are less likely to support a candidate for president who opposes protecting LGBT people in the workplace. Just 27 percent are more likely and 9 percent say it would make no difference.  In addition, 61 percent of Independent voters say they are less likely to support a candidate who opposes these protections, as do 58 percent of Catholic voters, and 54 percent of blue collar voters.

  • This could be a key issue among white millennial voters. Arguably, the most interesting group in this debate is white millennial voters (defined here as voters born between 1980 and 1997). These younger voters supported Obama in 2008, but voted Republican in 2010, 2012 and 2014, reflecting their frustration with the slow pace of change. However, they are committed to equality. A near-unanimous 86 percent support employment protections for LGBT people. Moreover, 65 percent are less likely to support a candidate who opposes these protections.

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European Court rules same-sex partnership a right Tue, 21 Jul 2015 21:53:27 +0000

Today, the European Court on Human Rights ruled that all signatories to the European Convention of Human Rights – including countries like Turkey and Russia, where discrimination and violence against LGBT people has recently made headlines – should recognize same-sex partnerships. This ruling, which could impact 47 countries, and 800 million people, is a major step in granting greater rights and equality to LGBT people across Europe, and around the world.

The case, Oliary and Others v. Italy, was brought by plaintiffs urging Italy to recognize their legal partnerships that had been granted outside of Italy. While arguing that same-sex partnership recognition is a right, this ruling allows signatory countries to chose which form of recognition they wish confer. HRC calls on all country signatories to embrace full marriage equality.

“This ruling makes clear that same-sex partnerships deserve to be recognized, protected, and celebrated, and we urge all signatories to do so,” said Jean Freedberg, deputy director of HRC Global. “From the victorious national referendum in Ireland in May to the historic ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court last month, the momentum for equality reaches around the globe.”

Italy is the only country in Western Europe with no legal form of recognition for same-sex couples. As partnership recognition continues to be debated in parliament, this ruling increases the pressure on opponents of LGBT equality. However, not all rulings of the European Court on Human Rights are strictly implemented, and experts caution that immediate consequences of this ruling might be limited.

But Freedberg added, “By calling same-sex partnership recognition a right, the court has made clear to LGBT people across Europe that their unions matter and that their love is equal and should be treated as such.”

The situation for LGBT people around the world varies widely. As some countries embrace equality, in others, LGBT people continue to suffer from discrimination, persecution, and violence.

• 25 countries and territories now have marriage equality.

• In 10 countries, same sex activity is punishable by death, and 75 countries criminalize same-sex relationships. Hundreds of transgender individuals have been brutally murdered in the last year.

• In a growing number of countries, governments have sought to silence equality advocates and organizations with so-called “anti-propaganda” laws and legislation.

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Senate fails to pass critical protections for LGBT youth Tue, 14 Jul 2015 22:14:43 +0000

WASHINGTON – Today, in the first major vote on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality since the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision, the Senate failed to pass the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) – a bill that would prohibit public schools from discriminating against any student on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) decried the Republican-led defeat of the critical legislation for LGBT youth.

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) offered SNDA as an amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act, which would update federal education law. The amendment failed on a vote of 52 to 45.

“Although a solid majority of Senators voted for this vital legislation, we are deeply disappointed that Republican leaders insisted on a super majority 60 vote threshold for passage,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “Every child deserves to learn in an environment free from discrimination and harassment, including those who are LGBT. Seven fair-minded Republican Senators joined every Democratic Senator in favor of protecting our nation’s kids from discrimination based on who they are. It’s time for Senators who voted against equality to put politics aside for the sake of our nation’s youth and instead reflect the strong support among the American people for these vital protections.”

Federal statutory protections address discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and disability.  Unfortunately, federal civil rights laws do not expressly protect students from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.  Decades of civil rights history shows that civil rights laws are effective in decreasing discrimination because they provide strong federal remedies targeted to specific vulnerable groups.

Modeled after Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, SNDA would explicitly prohibit public schools from discriminating against any student on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. In addition, SNDA prohibits discrimination against any student because of the actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of a person with whom a student associates or has associated.

During the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee consideration of the Every Child Achieves Act, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) also offered the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) as an amendment.  SSIA would require school districts receiving federal funds to have enumerated anti-bullying and harassment policies that protect students on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and religion.  Unfortunately, Republicans on the Committee undercut his efforts, and the amendment was ultimately withdrawn.

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New anti-LGBT group pledges to fight same-sex marriage Tue, 14 Jul 2015 21:50:01 +0000

Steve Hotze speaking at today's launch of REAL MARRIAGE: One Man/One Woman For Life

DALLAS — A group of anti-LGBT leaders today launched a coalition to fight the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. Calling themselves “REAL MARRIAGE: One Man/One Woman For Life,” the group aims to target unnamed businesses and politicians who don’t stand up against LGBT rights.

John Wright reported in the Texas Observer that an email announcing the news conference pledged “mass civil disobedience”—and speakers made mention of marches and protests—but for now the group doesn’t appear to have much more than a Web site. Unless you count fiery but familiar anti-gay sound bites.

“If we redefine marriage, the homosexual political movement will force churches, schools, families, businesses and individuals to accept, to affirm, and even to celebrate those who participate in anal sex, or anal sodomy,” said Dr. Steven Hotze, president of the Conservative Republicans of Texas. “It will be mandated to be taught to the children in the schools, at an early age, starting in kindergarten. They will be encouraged by their teachers to participate in anal sex.”

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Department of Defense confirms plan to lift transgender military ban Tue, 14 Jul 2015 00:39:41 +0000

WASHINGTON –Today, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced the establishment of a working group to study the “policy and readiness implications” of allowing transgender service members to serve openly.

Ashton Carter

Earlier today the Associated Press broke the news that the Department of Defense would soon announce a plan for lifting the ban.

The working group will “start with the presumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified.”

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) which has long called for an end to the military’s ban on transgender service, praised the announcement. “We welcome and applaud the announcement by Secretary Carter that the military will at last conduct a comprehensive review of the outdated ban that has for far too long discriminated against qualified transgender Americans who simply want to serve their country,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The time for ending the military’s ban on transgender service is long overdue, and we are confident that the Pentagon’s review of this discriminatory policy will find what many have come to know is true: Transgender Americans have every right to serve their country openly and honestly, and their sense of patriotism and duty is no less than any other service member’s. Our military and our country will be stronger when this archaic policy is finally discarded and we look forward to that day.”

Earlier today, SPARTA, one of the leading advocates for transgender military service, hailed the Associated Press report. “This is a tribute to the honorable military service of thousands of transgender Americans. There is much more to do, but the Secretary’s clear intent to treat transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines with the same dignity and on equal footing with other service members aligns with the core values of our Armed Forces,” said Allyson Robinson, Army veteran and SPARTA Director of Policy. “We stand ready to provide resources to the Working Group for the regulations changes required to take care of all the troops.”

“Six months is more than enough time to hammer out the details. This isn’t new ground,” continued Robinson. “A number of our military allies deploy transgender troops alongside American forces down-range, as do DOD contractors. Police and fire departments have managed transgender inclusion. I’m confident that our military leaders can handle this as smoothly as the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”

Transgender service members who belong to SPARTA had these reactions.

“I’ve always put the Air Force and my job first, and my commanders have treated me with dignity and respect,” said Sr. Airman Logan Ireland. “I am grateful that there will be one clear policy so that others like me will be able to continue to serve with pride.”

Airman Ireland recently attended the White House Pride Reception with his fiancée, Army Corporal Laila Villanueva, also transgender. He was allowed to attend in male uniform, a departure from current Air Force policy.

“My leaders have operated on the basis that how I do my job is what matters,” echoed Army Staff Sergeant Patricia King, an infantry soldier stationed in Colorado Springs. “But until now, the policies haven’t been in place to provide me or my unit the support we need, so we’ve improvised. This action would put the right process in motion, to give us clear guidance so I can keep doing my job, and taking care of my soldiers.”

“While some people don’t understand, many of my fellow soldiers have been supportive,” said Army Captain Jennifer Peace, a transgender woman serving in a Stryker Brigade Combat Team. “This change allows me to continue to do my job without the additional burden of pretending I’m someone I’m not. And that makes me a better officer and leader.”

Congresswoman Susan Davis, Ranking Member of the Military Personnel Subcommittee, issued the following statement on the DOD announcement. “I’m pleased to see that Secretary Carter is taking a step in the right direction and I hope it leads to our transgender service members being able to serve openly.  I agree with the Secretary that our current policy is outdated and is distracting from core missions. There is still work ahead for equality to prevail and for those who are eager and able to serve their country to have that opportunity.”

Two leading advocates to repeal the ban – Kristin Beck, former US Navy SEAL and Shane Ortega, Sergeant US Army said, “We are elated at the announcement that soon officially the transgender military ban will be eliminated. This brings ease to selfless heroes who deserve equal dignity and respect. We look forward to continually working with the Obama Administration and Pentagon officials on a clean, swift and effective plan to close out this chapter of discrimination. Today is a great step forward for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the United States of America.”

The new working group is expected to take up to six months to complete its review.

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Pentagon set to announce plan to lift transgender military ban Mon, 13 Jul 2015 19:33:01 +0000

The Associated Press have reported that the Department of Defense will soon announce a plan for lifting the ban on open service by transgender people in the military.

According to the Associated Press, an announcement is expected this week, and the services would have six months to assess the impact of the change and work out the details, the officials said Monday. Military chiefs wanted time to methodically work through the legal, medical and administrative issues and develop training to ease any transition, and senior leaders believed six months would be sufficient.

During that time, transgender individuals would still not be able to join the military, but any decisions to force out those already serving would be referred to the Pentagon’s acting undersecretary for personnel, the officials said. One senior official said the goal was to avoid forcing any transgender service members to leave during that time.

“Transgender Americans have every right to serve their country openly and honestly, and for far too long, this discriminatory ban has robbed them of the dignity of doing so,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The time for ending the military’s longstanding ban on transgender service is long overdue. Values that represent the foundation of our armed services–including integrity, respect and courage–will become more true when these outdated regulations are finally updated. We welcome reports that the Pentagon is planning to announce it will end the ban, and we will carefully review their plan for doing so.”

There are approximately 15,500 actively serving transgender members of the U.S. military, making the Department of Defense (DOD) the largest employer of transgender people in America. These service members are forced to serve in silence by DOD medical regulations prohibiting their service. Unlike the statutory ban that interfered with lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members from serving (known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”) the ban on transgender military service is regulatory and only requires action by the DOD to update.

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HUD issues guidance to help avoid discrimination to LGBT Americans seeking HUD-assisted housing Mon, 13 Jul 2015 16:58:33 +0000

WASHINGTON – As part of the White House Conference on Aging today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued guidance to better serve and help avoid discrimination to LGBT Americans seeking HUD-assisted or HUD-insured housing. The guidance will help clarify the Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity Rule (Equal Access Rule), which was originally published in 2012. The Equal Access Rule ensures that housing across HUD programs is open to all eligible individuals regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status, including Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly.

“Every American deserves to live with dignity, regardless of who they love or who they are,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “HUD is committed to fighting unjust discrimination and to expanding housing opportunity for all.”

HUD’s guidance on multifamily and insured housing programs clarifies that a determination of eligibility for housing that is assisted by HUD or subject to a mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) shall be made in accordance with the eligibility requirements provided for such a program by HUD, and be made available without regard to actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. The guidance also clarifies that no owner of administrator of HUD-assisted or HUD-insured housing, approved lender in an FHA mortgage insurance program, nor any recipient or sub-recipient of HUD funds may inquire about the sexual orientation or gender identity of an applicant for, or occupant of, HUD-assisted housing or housing whose financing is insured by HUD, whether renter or owner occupied.

Violations of the rule and guidance could result in HUD’s determination that the owner has failed to comply with program requirements.  HUD may pursue any available remedy, including sanctions, that it determines appropriate to remedy the violation.

The creation and implementation of the Equal Access Rule builds on HUD’s and President Obama’s commitment to expanding opportunity, advancing equality, and leveling the playing field for the LGBT. Since 2010, HUD has taken steps to strengthen LGBT protections, such as formally adopting the principle that gender identity discrimination is sex discrimination under the Fair Housing Act, releasing a groundbreaking study on LGBT housing discrimination, and pursuing complaints under the Equal Access Rule. The multifamily assisted and insured housing guidance follows additional guidance issued by HUD in February on home lending and transgender access to homeless shelters.

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South Carolina House approves bill to remove Confederate flag from statehouse Thu, 09 Jul 2015 16:09:54 +0000

Early today, the South Carolina House of Representatives voted 94-20 to remove the Confederate battle flag, giving final approval to a bill that passed the state Senate earlier in the week.

The vote count was more than the two-thirds needed — but it came after a handful of lawmakers mounted a tenacious last stand, proposing amendment after amendment that led the debate to drag on more than 12 hours, reported CNN.

Gov. Nikki Haley plans to sign the bill into law at 4 p.m. Thursday in a ceremony in the State House lobby. The legislation calls for the flag to be taken down within 24 hours of her signing of the bill and moved to the state’s Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum for display.

“Today, as the Senate did before them, the House of Representatives has served the State of South Carolina and her people with great dignity. I’m grateful for their service and their compassion. It is a new day in South Carolina, a day we can all be proud of, a day that truly brings us all together as we continue to heal, as one people and one state,” Haley said in a statement early Thursday.


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Kansas Gov. Brownback issues anti-LGBT executive order Tue, 07 Jul 2015 23:55:48 +0000

Gov. Brownback

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback today issued Executive Order 15-05, “Preservation and Protection of Religious Freedom,” protecting the religious freedom of Kansas clergy and religious organizations.

EO 15-05 prohibits state government from taking any discriminatory action against any “individual clergy or religious leader,” or any “religious organization” that chooses not to participate in a marriage that is inconsistent with its sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.

Gov. Brownback issued the following statement upon signing the Executive Order, “We have a duty to govern and to govern in accordance with the Constitution as it has been determined by the Supreme Court decision. We also recognize that religious liberty is at the heart of who we are as Kansans and Americans, and should be protected.

The Human Rights Campaign denounced Gov. Sam Brownback’s executive order stating it encouraged blatant discrimination against LGBT Kansans in the name of religion.

“Religious freedom is a bedrock of our country. Gov. Brownback’s executive order panders to the false notion that clergy and religious organizations will be stripped of their First Amendment rights,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Having nothing to do with religious freedom and everything to do with enabling discrimination, this executive order is divisive, unnecessary, and sends the wrong message. It places legally married same-sex couples at risk of having religious organizations, such as many hospitals, refuse to recognize their marriage while hampering the state government’s ability to address the problem. ”

In February, Gov. Brownback also astonishingly rescinded an executive order signed by former Governor Kathleen Sebelius in 2007 that provided workplace non-discrimination protections to LGBT state employees.

According to BuzzFeed News, under Gov. Brownback’s failed leadership, the state is still also failing to recognize legal same-sex marriages for the purposes of tax considerations.

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HuffPost welcomes Caitlyn Jenner as its newest blogger: The Journey begins Mon, 06 Jul 2015 20:49:03 +0000

Today, The Huffington Post welcomed Caitlyn Jenner as its newest blogger. Today’s blog, the first in a special original series provided to HuffPost will explore issues and people in the LGBT community. In this post, Caitlyn looks back at the first few weeks of her inspiring new journey and her hopes for shining a light on the serious issues facing the LGBT community.

This is the first article in a special original series written by Caitlyn Jenner for WhoSay called “The Real Me,” which will explore issues and people in the LGBT community.

Hi everyone. Caitlyn here. First of all, I want to thank you all for your support. The response to my new journey has been overwhelmingly positive, and I’m eternally grateful for all of your sweet messages, letters and gifts.

Up until now, I have totally isolated myself from the transgender community, so I have a lot of catching up to do. I feel such a responsibility to this courageous group to try to get it right and tell all sides of the story. To me, that’s always the biggest question: am I doing it right?

A few weeks ago, I had dinner with some of my new friends — a group of six trans women — and I went around the table and asked each of them how long it had been since their transitions. One said 20 years, another said 15 years ago… seven years ago… three years ago… They came around to me and I said, “Two weeks.”

Flash-forward a few weeks and I’ve already learned so much about this community, the issues and the people involved. It’s been an eye-opening experience for me — and it’s mainly made me realize how fortunate I am.

I’ve heard every horror story there is in the book. You wouldn’t believe the types of ordeals these people have had, how they have had to literally fight for their own survival. Many trans teens are bullied and abused in high school. It’s just horrendous. Then there’s the other dark side of this issue: did you know that nearly 25% of the women in high-end sex business are reportedly trans women?

Seeing how my new friends have overcome their adversities is such an inspiration. They are so well-adjusted and smart. I’ll be sharing their stories here in the coming weeks and I can’t wait for you to get to know them. They are just like you and me.

This is the first in a series of editorials where I will discuss the serious issues and lessons that I am learning through this process. I have so much to discover and hope that you’ll join me on this adventure.

Let’s live our true selves and make a positive difference while doing it.

– Caitlyn

For more information on the transgender movement, see a list of resources at

See the original HuffPost Blog post here.

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ICE issues new guidance on the care of transgender individuals in custody Mon, 29 Jun 2015 18:41:55 +0000

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE), Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) today issued further guidance to personnel on how to care for transgender individuals in custodial settings.

“The Transgender Care Memorandum reaffirms ICE’s commitment to provide a safe, secure, and respectful environment for all those in our custody, including those individuals who identify as transgender,” said ICE ERO Executive Assistant Director Thomas Homan. “We want to make sure our employees have the tools and resources available to learn more about how to interact with transgender individuals and ensure effective standards exist to house and care for them throughout the custody cycle.”

The memorandum addresses many elements of custody with regard to the treatment of transgender individuals. These elements include:

Data Systems: appropriate data systems will be updated to record an individual’s gender identity, assisting the agency in data collection and informed decision-making.
Identification and Processing: comprehensive officer training and tools will be provided to ensure an individual’s gender identity can be identified early in the custodial life cycle to ensure care in accordance with the new guidance.
Housing Placements: the memorandum includes a voluntary ICE detention facility Contract Modification that calls for the formation of a facility-based multidisciplinary Transgender Care Classification Committee that will be responsible for making decisions related to searches, clothing options, housing assignments, medical care, and housing reassessments for transgender individuals.

This new guidance is the result of a six-month agency Working Group that examined these issues with subject matter experts, sought input from transgender individuals, and visited various non-federal facilities across the country to observe best practices. The full guidance is available here.

Additionally, ICE also announced the designation of a new National ERO Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Coordinator and each of the 24 ERO Field Offices will also designate local LGBTI Field Liaisons who will serve as resources for officers.

The Transgender Care Memorandum is intended to complement existing ICE and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policies and standards, including the DHS PREA Standards.

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Reaction to SCOTUS same-sex marriage decision: The good, the bad and the ugly Fri, 26 Jun 2015 17:08:02 +0000

As expected reaction to the Supreme Courts decision granting marriage equality nationwide has been swift. Here is a round-up of reactions to that decision. As the headline suggests it truly represents the good, the bad and the ugly.

“Our nation was founded on a bedrock principle that we are all created equal.  The project of each generation is to bridge the meaning of those founding words with the realities of changing times — a never-ending quest to ensure those words ring true for every single American.

Progress on this journey often comes in small increments, sometimes two steps forward, one step back, propelled by the persistent effort of dedicated citizens.  And then sometimes, there are days like this when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.

This morning, the Supreme Court recognized that the Constitution guarantees marriage equality.  In doing so, they’ve reaffirmed that all Americans are entitled to the equal protection of the law.  That all people should be treated equally, regardless of who they are or who they love.

This decision will end the patchwork system we currently have.  It will end the uncertainty hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples face from not knowing whether their marriage, legitimate in the eyes of one state, will remain if they decide to move [to] or even visit another.  This ruling will strengthen all of our communities by offering to all loving same-sex couples the dignity of marriage across this great land.

In my second inaugural address, I said that if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.  It is gratifying to see that principle enshrined into law by this decision.

This ruling is a victory for Jim Obergefell and the other plaintiffs in the case.  It’s a victory for gay and lesbian couples who have fought so long for their basic civil rights.  It’s a victory for their children, whose families will now be recognized as equal to any other.  It’s a victory for the allies and friends and supporters who spent years, even decades, working and praying for change to come.

And this ruling is a victory for America.  This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts:  When all Americans are treated as equal we are all more free.”

President Barack Obama


“Today, the Supreme Court affirmed that simple proposition—supported by a majority of Americans and a majority of our states—by recognizing that men marrying men and women marrying women are guaranteed the same civil rights and equal protection under our Constitution afforded to Jill and me, and to anyone else.

We couldn’t be prouder. Over the years—in their homes, on our staff, on the frontlines of war, and in houses of worship—Jill and I have befriended countless gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans who share a love for their partners constrained only by social stigma and discriminatory laws. But today, their love is set free with the right to marry and the recognition of that marriage throughout the country.

This day is for them, their children, and their families. And it is for generations of advocates—gay, lesbian, transgender, straight—who for decades fought a lonely and dangerous battle. People of absolute courage who risked their lives, jobs, and reputations to come forward in pursuit of the basic right recognized today, but at a time when neither the country nor the courts would protect or defend them.”

Vice President Joe Biden


“Proud to celebrate a historic victory for marriage equality—& the courage & determination of LGBT Americans who made it possible.” (via Twitter)

Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton


“I believe that the court should have left the matter to the states but that Americans should also ‘respect’ each other while also protecting religious freedom. In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side. It is now crucial that as a country we protect religious freedom and the right of conscience and also not discriminate.”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush


“The decision will pave the way for an all-out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians who disagree with this decision. The Supreme Court decision today conveniently and not surprisingly follows public opinion polls, and tramples on states’ rights that were once protected by the 10th Amendment of the Constitution. Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that.”

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal


“This decision is a victory for same-sex couples across our country as well as all those seeking to live in a nation where every citizen is afforded equal rights. For far too long our justice system has marginalized the gay community and I am very glad the Court has finally caught up to the American people.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, (D-Vermont)


“Today, love prevailed and our nation became a more perfect union by affirming that all people are indeed created equal and justice belongs to everyone. With this decision, loving and committed same-sex couples can finally rest knowing their families are protected and their dignity is no longer up for public debate. But as we celebrate this watershed victory for fairness, we are reminded that marriage equality is a benchmark, not a finish line, and our work to bridge the gap to full acceptance for LGBT people continues.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO and President, GLAAD


“This is a very emotional day. We feel relief, of course, that the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the fundamental right of same-sex couples to legally commit their lives to each other. We feel admiration for the couples and the advocates who have fought for marriage equality through election after election and court after court, never giving up. And we feel pride in a movement that has helped inform public opinion and bring about justice in what, historically, is a relatively swift period of time. But most of all, we feel joy for every couple in every state who now have the opportunity to share their lives with the respect, dignity and legal protections that marriage brings.”

Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego)


“Today, I think back to 2008, when I was finally able to marry the woman I have shared my life with for nearly 25 years. It was an incredibly joyous day and so important to us and our daughter. My heart is so full knowing all loving couples across our great nation will now be able to share in the freedom to marry. Our community owes much gratitude to the legal groups, plaintiffs, state-based organizations, and, especially, to all the couples and families who bravely shared their stories for the past several decades. I’ve never felt more energized to get the work done so that all Americans can be fully equal and protected under the law.”

Rebecca Isaacs, Executive Director, Equality Federation


“Today’s ruling is a transformative triumph decades in the making, a momentous victory for freedom, equality, inclusion, and above all, love. For anyone who ever doubted that we could bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice, today the United States again took a giant step toward the more perfect union we the people aspire to. Today the Liberty Bell rings alongside wedding bells across an ocean of joy.”

Evan Wolfson, President, Freedom to Marry


“As Jews, we believe we are all formed in God’s image. This compels us to extend and recognize the same rights to everyone in our community, including individuals who identify as straight, gay, lesbian, or transgender. For many years, Reform Judaism rabbis have called for equal rights for all members of our communities, and we see today’s Supreme Court decision on marriage equality as a huge moral victory for the United States.”

Steve Fox, Chief Executive, The Central Conference of American Rabbis


“Today’s ruling makes perfectly clear that there is no legal or moral justification for standing in the path of marriage equality. Couples from Mississippi to North Dakota to Texas shouldn’t have to wait even a moment longer to be treated equally under the law. State officials across the country must act swiftly to ensure that every obstacle to obtaining a marriage license is removed. To do anything less is a shameful attempt to cement their state on the wrong side of history. But what’s clear today is that our work isn’t done until every discriminatory law in this nation is wiped away. The time has come in this country for comprehensive federal LGBT non-discrimination protections. We now have to work harder than ever before to make sure LGBT Americans cannot be fired, evicted or denied services simply on the basis of the marriage license that they fought so hard to achieve.”

Chad Griffin, President, Human Rights Campaign


“Today I could not be prouder of my country, more grateful for the memory of my late husband John, and more indebted to the incredible lawyers, advocates and fellow plaintiffs who made this landmark day possible. The fact that the state I have long called home will finally recognize my marriage to the man I honored and cherished for more than 20 years is a profound vindication—a victory I’m proud to share with countless more couples across the country. Thanks to the Supreme Court, a period of deep injustice in this nation is coming to a close, but it’s also clear today that there is still so much work to do. As long as discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is tolerated—whether in the seeking of a marriage license, the pursuit of fairness on the job, or the fight for equal treatment at a restaurant or business—we haven’t truly guaranteed equal justice under the law. But today’s victory proves that anything is possible, and I could not be more hopeful about the capacity of this country to change for the better.”

Jim Obergefell, Lead Plaintiff in the case


“This is a tremendous day for the LGBT community, their families, and their friends who have stood beside them. The Supreme Court has ended one of the blatant forms of discrimination that keep loving families apart based solely on who they love and where they live. This decision brings us closer to our nation’s promise of equal rights for all, and this victory belongs to those who can now marry who they love across America.”

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.)


“Today’s ruling is a defining moment for our nation that dignifies and validates couples who will no longer be treated differently because of who they are and who they love. This is a long-sought victory for so many people who dared to believe that love, liberty and basic fairness would eventually prevail. The Court’s decision affirms that every American is created equal, loves equally and should be free to pursue life, liberty and happiness.”

Sen. Mark Leno, (D-San Francisco)


“Empirical research demonstrates that the psychological and social aspects of committed relationships between same-sex partners largely resemble those of heterosexual partnerships. Like heterosexual couples, same-sex couples form deep emotional attachments and commitments. Heterosexual and same-sex couples alike face similar issues concerning intimacy, love, equity, loyalty and stability, and they go through similar processes to address those issues.”

Barry S. Anton, PhD, President, The American Psychological Association


“This is a magnificent achievement for our country. Although it may be tempting to view this Supreme Court ruling as the end of the struggle for LGBT equality, much work remains to address legal and social discrimination faced by the LGBT community in the U.S. – particularly for transgender individuals and people of color. There are even greater obstacles for LGBT people beyond this nation’s borders, especially in some of the poorest and most repressive countries in the developing world.”

Robert Bank, Executive Vice President, American Jewish World Service


“From Loving to Windsor to today, love has won. As people start seeing one another’s real aspirations and dreams for all our families and our communities, as well as for ourselves, we see that the arc of history does bend toward justice. And while this is a day of celebration, there is more work to do in our fight for full equality. As a gay woman and union leader, I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for my union—an ally in the struggle for rights and a shield from unfair discrimination in the workplace.”

Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers


“Today’s ruling strikes a blow to inequality and discrimination throughout the nation, and that’s good for Americans’ mental health. The APA has a long history of supporting the rights of same-sex couples, and we have long noted that there is no scientific or medical reason to deny these couples the right to marry. This decision is a landmark step in ensuring equality and happiness for every American.”

Renée Binder, M.D., President, The American Psychiatric Association


“Today the Supreme Court of the United States finally recognized what Log Cabin Republicans has long advocated for: the constitutional right of committed same-sex couples to engage in civil marriage partnerships. “At hand lies a tremendous opportunity for healing on all sides: Log Cabin Republicans encourages marriage equality advocates to resist the temptation of being ‘sore winners’ and respecting others who may not yet be at a place of acceptance; and opponents of marriage equality who can light a way out of the LGBT culture wars by recognizing that civil marriage for committed same-sex couples is no threat to any straight couple’s marriage, family, or faith. This is a watershed moment for the LGBT rights movement — one that had its genesis on the center-right — and Log Cabin Republicans congratulates our allied organizations, grassroots Chapter Leaders, and — especially — those committed same-sex couples who moved national sentiment on marriage equality so far, so fast simply by living their lives in quiet dignity.”

Gregory T. Angelo, National Executive Director, Log Cabin Republicans


“This decision by the Supreme Court marks a truly historic day for our country. As the debate for marriage equality in America comes to an end, I am proud to say that dignity and love have won. As a member of the Congressional Equality Caucus, I am delighted to celebrate this great victory with our nation’s LGBT brothers and sisters. As we commemorate this joyous occasion, let us also recognize that discrimination and intolerance still exist and that our fight for equality will continue until we’ve secured full and equal protections for all LGBT Americans.”

Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-04)


“Marriage equality is a great step towards a better and more equitable country. What this means for me, is that my own marriage to my partner Isabel is now not only recognized by the both of us, but by every state in this country. Today’s court ruling means that all LGBTQ people can have their love legally recognized but this day would not have come without the courageous voices of activists who dared to demand justice.The estimated 267,000 LGBTQ people who are also undocumented continue to face unrelenting discrimination and abuse for both sexual orientation and gender identity as well as their immigration status. United We Dream honors the brave freedom fighters who delivered today’s victory and honors those who are today fighting to overcome the next frontier of justice for the LGBTQ community.”

Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, Deputy Managing Director United We Dream


“Today, five unelected judges redefined the foundational unit of society. Now is the people’s opportunity respond because the future of the institution of marriage is too important to not have a public debate. The Court is one of three co-equal branches of government and, just as they have in cases from Dred Scott to Plessy, the Court has an imperfect track record.”

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum


“As a result of this decision, the only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage.”

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker


“This is only the latest example of an activist Court ignoring its constitutional duty to say what the law is and not what the law should be.”

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina


“While I strongly disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision, their ruling is now the law of the land.”

Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson

“This decision short-circuits the political process that has been underway on the state level for years. While I disagree with this decision, we live in a republic and must abide by the law. As we look ahead, it must be a priority of the next president to nominate judges and justices committed to applying the Constitution as written and originally understood.”

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio


“I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee


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Supreme Court Rules: Same sex marriage is the law of the land Fri, 26 Jun 2015 14:07:32 +0000


Today, the U.S. Supreme Court finally brought marriage equality to loving, committed same-sex couples nationwide.

In Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court justices announced in a 5 – 4 decision that same-sex marriage is the law of the land. The positive ruling included the usual suspects on the side of marriage equality, Justices Sotomayor, Ginsburg, Kagan and Breyer, all considered by some as the liberal wing of the court. Joining them were Justice Kennedy always viewed as the swing vote. Chief Justice John G. Roberts reaffirmed his conservative credentials voting with the dissenters. Justices Thomas, Alito and Scalia voted as expected, for discrimination. They and Chief Justice Roberts did not prevail.

Poetic justice prevailed with the announcement today. It was on June 26th, 2003 that the Supreme Court decision to strike down sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas. On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Windsor that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. Also on the date in 2013, the Supreme Court  ruled that same-sex marriage opponents in California did not have standing to appeal the lower court ruling that overturned the state’s same-sex marriage ban, known as Proposition 8. Stonewall started it all on June 28, 1969 but June 26 needs to be acknowledged as well.

The numbers prove America is ready. Sixty-one percent of Americans believe that same sex couples should be able to marry. When broken down by age, that number is even higher among younger demographics.  73 percent of 20-year-old people support same-sex marriage, twice the number of 80-year-old people who are in support of the new law.

See the Supreme Court ruling here.

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Obama disrupted at Pride Reception by undocumented transgender woman Thu, 25 Jun 2015 02:16:19 +0000

President Obama was interrupted today by a persistent heckler as he delivered a speech during a reception celebrating LGBT Pride Month in the East Room.

Speaking for 15 minutes the president told the reception of about 200 people that whatever the decision handed down by the court, the country had come a long way. “We are now awaiting the Supreme Court’s ruling on whether same-sex couples nationwide have the equal right to marry,” he said to loud cheers after listing other recent gay rights achievements.

Jennicet Gutierrez

But as the president spoke the heckler, identified as Jennicet Gutiérrez, an undocumented transgender woman, shouted, “President Obama, release all LGBTQ immigrants from detention and stop all deportations.”

As Gutiérrez repeatedly shouted out “Not one more deportation” the president, reportedly less patient than usual, asked the heckler to leave.

“Hold on a sec,” said Obama. “OK. You know what. Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah. No, no, no, no. Hey, listen, you are in my house,” he added, to cheers from the audience.

“You know know what?” continued the president. “It’s not respectful when you get invited to somebody’s house. You are not going to get a good response from me by interrupting me like this. Shame on you, you shouldn’t be doing this.”

As the crowd became impatient with the heckler the president had the woman removed.

Following the incident national grassroots social justice organization Get Equal issued a press release identifying Gutiérrez as the heckler.

“The White House gets to make the decision whether it keeps us safe, “explained Gutiérrez in the release. “There is no pride in how LGBTQ and transgender immigrants are treated in this country. If the president wants to celebrate with us, he should release the LGBTQ immigrants locked up in detention centers immediately.”

After the heckler was removed the president told the crowd, “As a general rule, I am just fine with a few hecklers but not when I am up in the house. If you are eating the hors d’oeuvres, know what I’m sayin’?, and drinking the booze…”

Obama was introduced by Megan Smith, US Chief Technology Officer, and was also accompanied by Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi.

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Clinton Campaign Debuts ‘Equal’ Marriage Video Wed, 24 Jun 2015 13:10:53 +0000

Today Hillary Clinton debuted a video expressing her support for marriage equality rights in America. While many LGBT leaders anticipate a Supreme Court ruling in support of marriage equality within the next week, the Clinton Campaign launched the video to bring into stark contrast her position versus that of her potential Republican opponent.

Some in the LGBT community are expressing a desire for Clinton to step forward on other issues including the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Support of marriage equality is no longer considered courageous for a Democratic presidential candidate, that ship sailed with President Obama. The LGBT community expects greater leadership on issues important to them but Clinton is trying to establish a beachhead with the community.

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Judge strikes down the ‘Sodomite Suppression Act’ Tue, 23 Jun 2015 20:46:40 +0000

Today, Superior Court Judge Raymond M. Cadei struck down the Sodomite Suppression Act. The judge’s ruling follows:

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Services and Repast for Dody Olsen, “First Lady of Hillcrest” Mon, 22 Jun 2015 21:29:53 +0000

Services for the “First Lady of Hillcrest,” Dody Olsen, 99, will be held on Tuesday, June 23rd at Greenwood Memorial Park, 4300 Imperial Avenue, San Diego, CA 92113. The service begins promptly at 2 pm. At 4 pm, a repast and celebration of life will be held at The Loft, 3510 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103.

Dody is survived by her loving family and her adopted LGBT community.

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SC governor calls for Confederate flag to be removed from Statehouse grounds Mon, 22 Jun 2015 20:48:19 +0000

Nikki Haley

In a press conference today, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds, saying the killings of nine church-goers at Emanuel AME in Charleston last week mandated a change in the state’s heart.

The Post and Courier reported that in a bi-partisan gathering inside the Statehouse, Haley said the state “stared evil in the eye” last week when a lone gunman entered the church and opened fire.

“The events of the past week call on us to look at this in a different way,” Haley said, adding that now is the time “to remove the flag from the capitol grounds.”

Haley was flanked by members of the Legislature, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, the heads of both major political parties in the state and U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, and U.S. Reps. Jim Clyburn and Mark Sanford.

The flag wasn’t lowered to half-staff after the shooting along with the other flags at the Statehouse after nine people were killed at a historic African American church Wednesday because doing so is under the authority of the state’s General Assembly — and so is taking it down.

NBC News reported that the General Assembly’s session ended on June 4, but lawmakers are meeting Tuesday to pass a budget compromise, at which point they can vote on extending the session to debate the Confederate flag. A decision to continue the session would take two-thirds of the vote, as would passing legislation to take down the flag.

If they don’t, Haley said she would use her authority to call them back into session to debate on the flag.

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White House Pride Reception to include transgender military attendees Mon, 22 Jun 2015 18:41:27 +0000

Logan Ireland

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Six SPARTA members will be attending the White House’s annual LGBT Pride Month Reception.

Two actively serving transgender service members will attend the Reception Wednesday, June 24. Upon receiving his invitation, Air Force Senior Airman Logan Ireland notified his command, who authorized a policy exception to allow him to attend in male dress uniform.

Ireland and his fiancée, Army Corporal Laila Villanueva came out publicly earlier in the month as being transgender in an exclusive New York Times Op-Doc,Transgender, at War and in Love.

Ireland recently returned from Afghanistan, where he was treated as male; because he was identified as female when he joined the Air Force, regulations currently require him to abide by female uniform and grooming standards.

Four transgender military veterans will also attend the Reception.

Army Colonel (Retired) Sheri Swokowski; Navy Lt. Cdr. (USNR) Brynn Tannehill; former Marine Sergeant Devon Allen and former Army National Guard Specialist Bryce Jordan Celotto.

“For those of us who are veterans, this is our opportunity to represent over 15,000 transgender people currently serving in our Armed Forces,” said Swokowski. “We are here to tell their stories while they continue to risk discharge by coming out. They serve their country with honor and distinction while they are denied medically necessary care as well as personal integrity to be who they are. It’s the current version of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’”

SPARTA has called for a moratorium on transgender discharges, and an expedited policy update to reflect current medical practice.

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Local health alert issued about invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) Fri, 19 Jun 2015 21:32:08 +0000

The County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency released a health alert today to inform local healthcare providers about clusters of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) cases in men who have sex with men (MSM) in Chicago and other cities. At this time, there have been no reported IMD cases in MSM in San Diego County.

The health alert states that a cluster of six cases of IMD in MSM was recently reported by the Chicago Department of Public Health. The cases were caused by serogroup C meningococcus, prompting a local recommendation that all MSM, transwomen, and individuals who have sex with MSM get immunized with one of the available quadrivalent meningococcal vaccines.

An increase in IMD cases in MSM due to serogroup C meningococcus has been previously reported in New York City, with the last case noted in December 2014. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has a local recommendation to vaccinate all HIV-infected MSM and MSM, regardless of HIV status, who regularly have close or intimate contact with men met through an online website, digital application (“app”), or at a bar or party.

IMD cases in MSM have been reported in Los Angeles County since December 2012, but the number of cases there has declined, with the last case reported in January 2015. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has a local recommendation to vaccinate both HIV-positive MSM and HIV-negative MSM whose activities put them at higher risk.

The County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency closely monitors IMD locally. No case of IMD has been reported in MSM in San Diego County. Only two IMD cases in San Diego County have been reported to date in 2015, and both were caused by serogroup B meningococcus. Since 2004, the number of IMD cases reported in San Diego County has averaged about twelve per year, and when serogroups were determined, 37% were B, 36% C, 23% Y, and 4% W135.

The County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency recommends that providers who care for MSM and transwomen who are planning travel to Chicago, New York City or Los Angeles inform these patients of the clusters of IMD cases in MSM in these cities. Of note, the 46th Annual Chicago Pride is scheduled June 20-21, 2015 and Chicago Black Pride is scheduled July 2-5, 2015, and vaccine clinics have been coordinated with the events. New York City Pride week is June 21-28, 2015.

Along with routine advice on safe sex, quadrivalent meningococcal vaccination should be offered to travelers who may be at increased risk for IMD. The at-risk individuals are defined by the local health department in the destination city. Vaccination should be at least two weeks before travel for optimum protection and should be given as follows:

Information about reducing risk for IMD may be found here: and here:

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Double celebration for openly gay president of the Golden State Warriors Wed, 17 Jun 2015 17:03:15 +0000

Rick Welts

Rick Welts, president and COO of the Golden State Warriors is enjoying a double celebration today. Last night his team beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 105-97 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to win the 2015 title. It is the team’s first championship since the team won the title 40 years ago in 1975.

The day before San Francisco Pride honored the openly gay sports executive by naming him as their 2015 Celebrity Grand Marshal.

One of the most respected business executives in the NBA, with over 39 years of experience in the league, Welts is currently in his fourth season as president and COO of the Golden State Warriors. In this  role, he oversees all business-related operations for the Warriors, including the team’s proposed development of a privately financed sports and entertainment center in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood, reporting to the organization’s co-managing partners, Joe Lacob and Peter Guber.

Welts came out to the public in 2011 in a front page New York Times article. “This is one of the last industries where the subject is off limits,” he said at the time, during which he was president of the Phoenix Suns.

In a statement, the grand marshal-elect said that the parade provides him an opportunity “to shine light on the contributions the LGBT community makes to sports, every day, all over the world.”

Congratulations to Rick Welts!



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Jeb Bush launches presidential campaign Mon, 15 Jun 2015 19:29:54 +0000

Jeb Bush | Photo: Gage Skidmore

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush made his long-expected campaign launch official today, entering the race just days before the U.S. Supreme Court is widely expected to issue its ruling in Obergefell v Hodges — a case that could lead to nationwide marriage equality. During the lead-up to his campaign launch, Bush has expressed support for “traditional marriage,” and has pointedly refused to say if he would consider a Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality final and decline efforts to reverse it.

“Given that he’s launching his campaign on the cusp of this historic Supreme Court decision, Gov. Bush should explain to the six-in-ten voters who support marriage equality whether he would consider a ruling final,” said JoDee Winterhof, Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs at the Human Rights Campaign. “If Jeb Bush continues to duck a simple question about the Supreme Court and refuses to say if he will appoint judges who are committed to ensuring LGBT people have the same rights as everyone else, he’s putting himself at odds with the majority of Americans he hopes to ‘lead.’”


Bush Does Not Believe the Constitution Grants Right to Same-Sex Marriage. Reuters reported that “Republican Jeb Bush said in a weekend radio interview that he does not believe the Constitution grants a right to gay marriage, emphasizing his support for ‘traditional marriage.’ The Supreme Court is expected by the end of June to make a landmark ruling that could make gay marriage the law of the land or return the decision to individual states. ‘It’s at the core of the Catholic faith and to imagine how we are going to succeed in our country unless we have committed family life, (a) committed child-centered family system, is hard to imagine, Bush told the Christian Broadcasting Network show, ‘The Brody File,’ in an interview broadcast on Sunday. ‘So, irrespective of the Supreme Court ruling because they are going to decide whatever they decide – I don’t know what they are going to do – we need to be stalwart supporters of traditional marriage,’ said Bush, who converted to Catholicism 20 years ago.” [Reuters, 5/19/2015]

Highlights on Jeb Bush’s LGBT Record:

As governor of Florida, Jeb Bush consistently opposed marriage equality for LGBT Americans. And he showed a willingness to appoint staff and contribute money to causes that had strong anti-equality agendas. [Citations/Full Research Brief]

Marriage: As governor, Bush said he believed marriage was between “one man” and “one woman” and eventually supported amending Florida’s constitution to oppose same-sex marriage. Under Bush, the Florida Republican Party spent thousands on the amendment. [Citations/Full Research Brief]

Discrimination: When asked by a potential LGBT employee about his policy on hiring LGBT people, Bush suggested the employee should stay closeted. He has a history of opposing protections for LGBT Americans as “special legal rights,” and while he now says he believes in preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation, he has not said whether he supports ENDA. [Citations/Full Research Brief]

Executive Order: Unclear  [Citations/Full Research Brief]

Conversion Therapy: Unclear  [Citations/Full Research Brief]

Harmful Rhetoric: Bush called marriage and partner benefits for LGBT Americans “special rights.”  [Citations/Full Research Brief]

Adoption: Bush opposed allowing LGBT couples to adopt as governor. After it was made legal through a court decision, Bush said he respected the decision. [Citations/Full Research Brief]

Anti-bullying: Set up commission on bullying. [Citations/Full Research Brief]

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Pleasures & Treasures Window Displays Questioned Mon, 15 Jun 2015 01:31:26 +0000

The taste and appropriateness of  the window displays at Pleasures & Treasures, an adult toy store located in North Park, are being called into question. Some neighbors and shoppers have complained that products displayed in the windows, as well as the dress displayed on the mannequins, go too far. There are adjacent stores that cater to families with children that seem to be the cause of the concern. Neighbors are asking that the store tone it down.

Pleasures & Treasures is known to push the envelope by displaying items that are not for consumption by those under 18 years old. The owner has taken a devil may care attitude to the neighbor concerns, “If you’re offended by the store then close your eyes, or walk on the other side of the street, or take a different route,” owner Peter Gieblewicz told 10News.

LGBT Weekly will reach out to the North Park Main Street Business Association to find out what they think of Gieblewicz’s statement. What do you think? Should the business owner be able to display anything he wants in his windows?

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Where has Babette Schwartz Gone? Fri, 12 Jun 2015 20:17:33 +0000

The infamous and long standing gift emporium Babette Schwartz is no longer on University Avenue, it is being replaced by Queen B salon. Where has Babette Schwartz the store gone?

The successful retailer that started on Park and University, and eventually moved to its current University Avenue location, seems to have quietly shuttered the storefront. The last post on Facebook for the store was June 1, 2015. Calls to the retail location indicate that the phone is no longer in service.  And the following sign was on the door. Is the B for Babette?

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